Stopping Newton - The Word is Out
First things first.
The NFL is an organic entity. It evolves. Coaching staffs look for weaknesses to exploit. They do so until those particular weaknesses no longer remain. Then they search for another. This is how it has always been.
Once a team finds a weakness, you can expect others to follow suit. It is a guarantee.
Going into the the Cardinals game, Cam Newton was being rushed by at least 5 defenders a league high 44% of the time. Newton, protected by a patchwork offensive line, saw more pressure than any other quarterback in the league.
How did Arizona use this information? They doubled down, and the league was watching.
Arizona rushed at least 5 defenders 60% of the total snaps. The result? Seven sacks, three interceptions, six points. The word is out, pressure Cam Newton and the Panthers offense will have no answers.
This is not to say that Cam Newton is totally to blame. GM David Gettleman could have provided a better offensive line to protect him. Ron Rivera could have urged Mike Shula to find a way to get the ball out more quickly. Mike Shula could have anticipated the pressure and developed a counter strategy. The Offensive line could play with more heart and better communication.
The blame can be spread around quite easily.
It is now up to Mike Shula to realize that teams will be be bringing more pressure than ever before. It is up to him to counter the strategy with plays that quickly develop and make the defense second guess their approach. Can we expect to see more screens, draws, and hot routes? We can only hope.
In short, Cam Newton can be a franchise player in this league, but not on his own. So far this season his team has let him down.